Friday, February 07, 2014
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Pacioretty's hat trick carries Habs past Canucks

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[February 07, 2014]  MONTREAL  In a game billed as a duel between Team Canada's Olympic goaltenders, it was American Olympian Max Pacioretty who made the headlines.

The Montreal left winger recorded his second hat trick of the season and was awarded two penalty shots in the same period  both unsuccessful  as the Canadiens earned a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday at the Bell Centre.

"If we had lost that game by a goal, I would have been kicking myself," said Pacioretty, whose first career penalty shot came back in October 2013, also against goaltender Roberto Luongo and the Canucks.

"I think it says a lot about his character," Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said of Pacioretty. "It's tough, especially for a guy like him who wants to score so bad, when you go in and you don't score on those two penalty shots. But scoring two goals after shows how mentally tough he is and determined he is."

Centers Ryan White and Tomas Plekanec also scored for Montreal, which won for the fourth time in six games after a four-game slide that saw them give up 19 goals and come close to losing their grip on a playoff spot.

Thanks to their recent success, the Canadiens (31-21-6) are within one point of the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.


"Obviously with the break coming close, we wanted to get a real good couple of games in and try and catch up a little bit," Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said.

Price made 42 saves for Montreal, which has held its opponents to two goals or fewer in six consecutive games.

Left winger Chris Higgins and defenseman Alexander Edler scored for the Canucks (27-23-9). Vancouver's losing streak reached six games.

"That's a tough one. Another night without any points," said Luongo, who stopped 24 shots. "It's important we don't get frustrated. We (have to) dig deep, work hard."

Despite their rough stretch, which has seen the Canucks deal with several key players lost to injury, the mood hasn't dimmed.

"That's the only thing we can do as a club right now is stay positive," Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. "I thought the bench was alive, I thought they played hard.

"That's my job, to make sure we're ready to play our next game. That's all you can do  continue to work at this, force some good bounces your way and stay with it."

Pacioretty got the scoring started when he deflected a power-play point shot by Subban past Luongo at 14:59 of the first period. Subban's shot was his second attempt to get the puck through, after his initial point shot was blocked by defenseman Jason Garrison and bounced back to him.


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White doubled the Canadiens' lead 63 seconds later. Left winger Michael Bournival attracted both Canucks defensemen as he drove to the net. White, alone to the left of the net, made no mistake in lifting his first of the season over the Vancouver netminder.

Higgins got the visitors on the board at 2:31 of the second when Garrison's shot from the circle went off his leg and into the net. The goal came just after a big save by Luongo on Canadiens left winger Brandon Prust, off a two-on-one with Plekanec.

Hauled down by Canucks defenseman Raphael Diaz  a Canadiens teammate earlier in the week  Pacioretty shot wide on his first penalty-shot attempt. He was stopped by Luongo on the second after left winger Alex Burrows tripped him.

It marked the first time in Canadiens history that the team was awarded two penalty shots in one game.

"I was chuckling, you don't see that every day," Luongo said of the second penalty shot. "They called that and I was looking at Max and we were smiling...

"But that is not why we lost tonight. A lot of things went wrong."

Getting a second one surprised Pacioretty.

"It really was (a sense of disbelief). I couldn't believe it," he said. "That was the last thing I would expect to happen, so quickly after my first one."

Center David Desharnais' perfect behind-the-back backhand pass set up Pacioretty's second goal of the night at 4:45 of the third period.

Plekanec added to his team's lead when his attempted pass to Desharnais on a two-on-one was cut off by Edler, who kicked it into his own net. Edler picked up Vancouver's second goal at 12:21 of the third on the power play.

Pacioretty completed the hat trick with an empty-net tally at 18:52 of the third.

Bournival left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return.


NOTES: The Canadiens honored both teams' Olympians  a total of 12 players  with a brief pregame presentation. ... The game was the first for Canucks D Raphael Diaz and Montreal RW Dale Weise against their former teams after being traded for one another on Monday. ... Canadiens D P.K. Subban played in his 100th consecutive game, a stretch that began last season when he returned six games into the campaign following a contract impasse. ... The Canucks scratched C Henrik Sedin (rib), LW Kellan Lain and D Dan Hamhuis (leg). Sedin confirmed that he would not play for Sweden in the Olympics due to his injury. ... Montreal scratched RW George Parros and D Francis Bouillon, while LW Travis Moen missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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